Atrial fibrillation (AF) can be a significant burden for patients as well as the health care system. Every third 55-year-old will develop AF. Despite improvements of disease management, a significant risk for cardiovascular events remains. The current AF guidelines of the European Society of Cardiology focus on an integrative therapy approach. The new algorithm “CC to ABC” comprises recommendations for diagnosis (“confirm” and “characterise”) and treatment (“avoid stroke”, “better symptom control”, “comorbidities”) of AF. Direct oral anticoagulants administered according to the CHADS-VASc score remain the corner stones of stroke prevention. Besides the concept of heart rate control, rhythm control therapy like antiarrhythmic drugs or catheter ablation is recommended to relieve symptoms and in certain patient groups for the improvement of prognosis. Therapy of comorbidities and reduction of risk factors like hypertension, diabetes mellitus, obesity and obstructive sleep apnoea should be part of any comprehensive treatment approach. The results of the randomized, prospective EAST-AFNET 4 trial were published in August 2020. The trial shows that an early rhythm control therapy can lead to a reduction of cardiovascular mortality and incidence of stroke additionally to guideline-based AF management. Given the safety profile and potential positive effects of antiarrhythmic drugs and catheter ablation, early initiation of rhythm control therapy should be considered in every patient during the first months after diagnosis of AF.
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